Mount Readmore Book Review, 2017 27/100
Who Fears Death By Nnedi Okorafor
Audiobook Edition, Anne Flosnik
Finished on 3/12/2017
Genres: Dystopia, Africa, Fantasy, Sci Fi, Magical Realism, Folklore, Kickass Female Protagonist
War is a Perennial Problem across Future Sudan, but to End it 1 Sorceress Must Defeat Her 1 Father. To Do So She Must Team Up With her 1 True Love and Her 3 Friends in a Quest to Journey Across Africa out of 5
Onyesonwu, which translates to ‘Who Fears Death?’ in English, is the misbegotten child of rape. Her father is the leader of the Nuru tribe, while her mother is a sorceress of the Okeke. Onyesonwu must end the generations of violence between the Nuru and Okeke once and for all, before the Nuru wipe out her mother’s tribe once and for all.
‘Who Fears Death’ is an almost-folkloric story of triumph of the oppressed over the oppressor. We witness Onyesonwu’s life leading up to the time when she ‘does the deed,’ so to speak, and frees her people. The everyday life of Africa is brought into sharp detail, with a fusion of personal computers and magic to complete the excellent setting.
This is not a perfect book, however. I didn’t like Onyesonwu’s seemingly limitless power. She could reverse time, bring back the dead, heal any injury… the list goes on. My quibble is that there seemed to be no cost to it. More, why could she bring back dead minor characters, but not the dead major characters? Her powers go from being all-powerful one minute to disappeared the next with no logical reason why.
On a related note, I liked Onyesonwu’s characterization but felt that she had some glaring blind spots in terms of ethical behavior. My biggest problem is that she was a Messianic character, but she wantonly blinded everyone in one village and murdered all the men in another. For a supposed ‘good’ character, why did she have to be so ruthless? Jeez, she’s near as bad as her Dad the genocidal maniac. On one hand this ruthlessness was interesting to read, but on the other hand the characters in-world treated Onyesonwu as a paragon of virtue despite her viciousness.
Net total, I think this is a good book. I would recommend it to people who want a coming of age story set in a post apocalyptic Africa and don’t mind reading about squicky topics like rape-as-a-weapon-of-war or female genital mutilation.
Audiobook notes: Hot damn, Anne Flosnick did an impressive job with this book. I think I enjoyed this book because of her voice acting. I would never have guessed that she did the voice acting for the original Kushiel trilogy and did the voice acting for this as well. If you want to read this book I highly recommend her work.